Front and Center

January 30, 2013 by  
Filed under current, Mothering Space, Wisdom Space


Recently the landscape of my mental space underwent a tectonic shift. It was like getting whacked upside the head by a monk in those Buddhist stories, like looking in the mirror and finding out that all this time I thought my hair was blond but finding it’s really black.

I realized that it’s ok to want what I want.

I have heard many women share their stories with their struggles to put themselves first and to nurture the nurturer. These are very real stories with very real pain. But I didn’t think they applied to me. I knit, I have my own business, I get a massage every now and again.

The realization came when I began planning my goals for the year. I have made goals before, but out side of school, where there are very clear paths to success in place, the ones that came to pace appeared in a sort of haphazard way. And I never wrote them down. I carried them in the back of my mind, thinking that would be enough.

But this year I bought a goal planner and it made me write them down. And whoa. My first response was a mental fog, “I don’t know what I want. This is stupid. I’m not doing it.” The next response was disbelief and indignation, “I can’t have what I want. That’s impossible. This is stupid. I’m not doing it.” And the next response was shame, “I can’t have what I want. I don’t deserve it. This is stupid. I’m not doing it.”

So for a while, I didn’t do it.

But there the planner sat, staring at me. As I sat with it, I realized that there were indeed things that I wanted. Badly. But they were floating around the periphery of my awareness—on the outskirts and edges of my mental space.

And then the space shifted and I realized that I was afraid. Some family of origin stuff, and some religious upbringing stuff clicked into place and I realized that little me had learned it was safer not to want things.

And all of a sudden, I could hear the stories running on a loop in the background of my life, “Wanting leads to shame. Getting isn’t possible, so why even try. Good, spiritual people don’t want stuff. Wanting is bad. Stop it, stop it, stop it!” So my wants went underground, unnamed.

Leaving them on the edges was supposed to protect me, to keep me safe. There was a small, unconscious part of me that felt that if I didn’t let myself want anything, I couldn’t get hurt.

But the opposite was happening. By leaving my wants on the edges, they would come in and out of focus, in and out of my awareness. Sometimes I could work towards them, and then I would forget, or lose the path. Left in limbo, I was always, always in reaction mode, first moving in one direction and then another. It was impossible to know in which direction to head. I felt bad about myself because I could never seem to make anything happen. Because my compass needle kept spinning and spinning, it was impossible to know what to do.

But now I know. I’ve seen the man behind the curtain. And I am free.

And ever so gently, I’m bringing what I want into the light, giving it a name, and putting it right in front of me.

About Our Wisdom Space Contributor

Miki DeVivoHi, I’m Miki. I am a photographer, family history chronicler, and creator of The Book of Love. I create and tend spaces in which we can be truly seen and deeply loved. I am passionate about collecting and tending stories, capturing moments of everyday tenderness and beauty, and reflecting back to people the very best parts of themselves. Come share my story (and share yours if you like) at


4 Responses to “Front and Center”
  1. Chris Owen says:

    LOVE YOUR WORK Miki!!!

  2. I struggle with this, too, Miki,

    “It’s safer not to want things. You can’t have them anyway. Good people never want anything; they only care about helping other people get what THEY want.”

    THANK you so much for the mental image of bringing what I truly want gently into the light and putting it right in front of me, and for the beautiful image of the rainbow as a touchstone to remind me when I find myself not doing so.


    • Miki DeVivo says:

      Oh my yes, the stories we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot have are so very tricky. Mine were so tricky, I couldn’t even see them until now!

      So glad that the image of bringing things front and center resonates with you. For me it is actually quite literal, when I see the fleeting wants they are just on the outskirts of my vision and I actually imagine bringing them in front of me so I can really see them and see them clearly.

      And the rainbow in the desert was such a cool experience. All kinds of people were pulling their cars over to watch it and take pictures. One little girl was so excited she called it “a once in a lifetime experience” and I was inclined to agree with her =).